13 July 2017

Review: Mizora by Mary E. Bradley Lane

Hardcover, 147 pages
Published 1999 (originally 1880-81)
Borrowed from the library
Read April 2013
Mizora: A World of Women
by Mary E. Bradley Lane

This is one of the earliest female utopian stories. Like a lot of utopian stories, there's no kind of plot or anything, more a tour of things the author thinks is interesting about the world they've created. (When and why did we readers turn on this at a literary form? Clearly people in the nineteenth century ate this kind of stuff up.) Interestingly, contrasted with the way some strands of feminism approach science in the present day, this feminist utopia is founded on science; even the cooking is done by chemists, who don't smell or stir their food, just measure it quantifiably. The women of Mizora have majestic, imaginative brains, observing the secrets of Nature and adopting them for their own use. They work as Nature does, they claim, and science is impartial-- it helps anyone willing to work. Not a place I'd want to live, even if I was a woman (the women were vengeful and cruel toward the men when they took over back in the past... and now there are none), I suspect, but a very fascinating book, a way into how scientific thinking was perceived in 1880s America.

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